The BLM owns it, but it’s not exactly wild land.
Freight trains long plowed through it, but the tracks are gone now.
People walk and enjoy it daily, and soon it will formally join Coeur d’Alene’s designated recreation sites.
The long, narrow strip of land runs from the west end of downtown north to the Riverstone subdivision near Interstate 90. And the U.S. Bureau of Land Management intends to allow the city to manage it for open space and public use.
The 200-foot-wide, mile-long parcel is a remnant of the city’s industrial past. With no more mills to feed from, BNSF Railway Corp. relinquished its right of way in 2011.
The city and BLM are working on a long-term, no-cost lease agreement that would allow the city to manage the 28.7-acre strip, complementing the Centennial Trail running parallel to it and dovetailing with the higher education campus anchored by North Idaho College.
“If this is planned out right, this will be a very nice addition and it will blend right in with the master plan” for the campus, said Kurt Pavlat, field manager of the BLM’s Coeur d’Alene field office.
A section in the middle of the ribbon of land cuts through a stand of ponderosa pines with glimpses of the Spokane River below.
“This is the beautiful spot,” Janna Paronto, a realty specialist with the BLM, said during a recent walk. “I can truly see there being benches and maybe picnic tables in here.”
The city will develop the plan for the property, which lends itself to trails but may include other amenities. No commercial development will be permitted, though, under federal rules.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission will discuss the BLM property, the education corridor and the adjacent Four Corners area May 20 at 6 p.m. in the community room of the Coeur d’Alene Public Library.
The city wants to consider revitalization potential around Four Corners, where Northwest Boulevard turns into Sherman Avenue and Government Way flows into Mullan Avenue. That may include creating a gateway to downtown.
The area includes Memorial Field baseball stadium, a skate park, the Kootenai County government campus, the Human Rights Education Institute, the Museum of North Idaho and Independence Point.